Balcony Fresh Chocolate Truffles

Just like how they'd look if a pig sniffed 'em out of the earth, no?

Just like how they’d look if a pig sniffed ’em out of the earth, no?

Truffles, true rolled ganache tossed in cocoa powder truffles, are without a doubt one of the simplest sweets to make. Most people hear the word “truffle” and think of bon bons. The difference being that bon bons are either dipped or encased in a shell of chocolate. Bon bons are absolutely more difficult to make than truffles. You have to temper chocolate, dip or prepare molds, and prepare the filling. Its messier, more technically demanding, and just not something that I enjoy doing. Rolled truffles however are the kind of thing you could make while half watching a Cold Case Files marathon or FaceTiming your mother. I used to pretend that truffles took more effort to make than they actually do as I worried their impressive effect would be lost if people knew how simple it was to make them. But then I came upon this recipe and decided that the flavor is impressive enough on its own. I don’t need to trick people into thinking I spent an evening in the kitchen. All thats needed is planning. Simply allow time to steep the cream overnight, and then to bring your truffles fully to room temperature before serving. This gives them an unbelievably “how-are-these-not-melting-they’re-so-fricking-soft” texture.

These are seriously sexy food. So sexy that I made them for my anniversary as a way to end the night on a decadent but not heavy note. These are great for times when you want to indulge but don’t want to be weighed down, if you catch my drift. There is a reason that chocolate truffles are ubiquitous with Valentine’s Day.

Why do I call them “balcony fresh?” Because I made these guys lemon verbena flavored from some lemon verbena that I’ve been growing on my balcony. Clearly.

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If you’re gonna have pie, you gotta have ice cream

Ice cream, yo.

Ice cream, yo.

Did I mention I hate to let anything go to waste? Hate hate HATE it? So when I found out I could steep fresh peach pits in cream and make lightly peach scented ice cream I knew I had to do it. While my own homemade almond extract is not going to be ready until Christmas at the earliest I still have some store bought left over. There is nothing like the menage a trois of peaches, cream, and almond. It’s divine. Assuming you have an ice cream maker making ice cream at home is stupid easy. Its easier than making frozen custard, which is often mistaken for ice cream. Whats the difference you ask? Egg yolks, baby. Sweet, fatty, golden yellow, emulsifying egg yolks.

Seriously, save these guys.

Seriously, save these guys.

Ice cream can technically be made in one day, but I always give frozen custard overnight to chill. I do the same with any infused ice creams, like this one, so plan to make it the day before you want to eat it. It’s really really ridiculously easy to just steep some peach pits from your pie making at the same time you are making said pie. Let it sit overnight with your pie dough and then “spin” (the term used in professional kitchens for churning ice cream) your ice cream while you form your pie. You could spin your ice cream at the same time as your pie is baking but even with as awesome as the Cuisinart and KitchenAid ice cream makers are if the high heat of the oven makes your kitchen warm your ice cream will suffer. Avoid this issue by spinning your ice cream (a lovely hands off 20-30 minutes) while you are rolling pie dough, which also benefits from a cold kitchen.

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Peach Pie (filling), Oh my

Everyone likes pie. Custard pies, French style tarts, diner style meringue topped ones, pumpkin, the variety goes on and on. The number one type of pie for me is fruit pie. Aside from ice cream I can think of no better summer time indulgence. The main reason that I don’t make pies more often is because of how many steps that are required. Preparing the crust, preparing the filling. These each often take overnight, minimum since I chill my crust for at least 8 hours prior to using. Then you have to roll out the dough, chill the pie, bake the pie, cool the pie. It’s kind of a hassle to be honest. The amount of work is easy, it’s the forethought that’s a pain in the ass. Despite my hyper tendency to prepare things and store them I like to have the freedom to just “whip up” something from time to time. Maybe I’m lazy, sick, or have unexpected guests coming by. Thats where home canned pie filling comes in. There will be an upcoming post on safe canning procedures in the upcoming couple of weeks. What I really want to focus on today however is the peach pie filling.

Here's looking at you, kid.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

As I mentioned before I almost always have a double batch of pie dough in my freezer. This can thaw on the counter in 20 minutes. Whenever I am making cookies, pizza dough, or the like in my food processor I quickly throw in a batch of pie dough, saving me from having to pull out and clean the food processor on a separate occasion.  I will be posting about pie dough most likely sometime next week, as I used my last batch for this pie.

This was less than a third of the peaches bought this year. Not nearly enough if you ask me.

This was less than a third of the peaches bought this year. Not nearly enough if you ask me.

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Baby steps towards Fall Baking Season.

This would be fat free if it weren't for the whipped cream, but I'd say its worth it.

This would be fat free if it weren’t for the whipped cream, but I’d say its worth it.

Summer continues to hold on. The upcoming week holds highs in the 90’s until Friday arrives to free us all from the heat and work week responsibilities. Growing up in Southwest Florida summer was always my least favorite season, made only worse by the un-ignorable climate change. There is no such thing as eating with the seasons in The Sunshine State. Having spent the last five and a half years living in New York City however my views are beginning to change. Summer is now a scoch above winter. By no means my favourite season (that honor goes to Fall, who is hiding somewhere, ready to appear next week I hope) summer in the city has been pretty great to me. As a teacher I did not have to work so I took a huge two month long trip to Europe and Israel that I will post about at another time.

Yeah, it was so good that we couldn't wait to have some before photos took place.

Yeah, it was so good that we couldn’t wait to have some before photos took place.

Still despite the fact that feel ready for words like “crisp,” “cozy,” “spiced,” and “ooey gooey,” the world around me is not on the same page. But I wanna start fall baking right meow! The solution? Angel food cake. It’s light, airy, and pairs with the end of summer fruits and berries that can still be snapped up at the farmers market. If the berries are gone from your market fret not! This cake goes incredibly well with any citrus curd, canned fruit, or jam. Heck, you could even throw some frozen peaches or strawberries in a small pot with a sprinkling of sugar and some lemon zest and cook it until the juices release and the fruit softens. Just spoon that over a nice slice of this pillowy wonder cake. Whatever you do don’t forget the whipped cream, unsweetened of course (unless you have a couple pinches of vanilla sugar sitting around.)

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Welcome to my blog! Let’s learn about macarons, shall we?

Confetti macarons   Macarons seemed like the best place to start this all off for a few reasons. They’re cute, popular, and actually easier to make than one would imagine. That being said wonderfully rustic, adorable, and stupidly delicious macarons are easy to make. Picture perfect ones, however, are a different story. I’ve made a lot of macs in my day and I still cross my finger that every batch will have perfect feet,* chewy centers, and be free of any and all rogue cracks. More often than not they come out smooth as silk and bursting with light clean flavors. Today just was not my day. Consider it my disclaimer that macarons are just plain ole’ temperamental. You may do every little thing perfect and something will just not be as pretty as you’d like. These will be freaking delicious with a plush chewy center and a shatteringly crisp shell that just beg for a satiny buttercream filling. I can forgive these guys for being a bit bumpy. In fact if I keep too many of these around the house I’m going to start getting bumpy too. The amount of butter in the filling is no joke. If they don’t come out the way you want them crumble them up and use them to decorate a cake, or top some ice cream, or just give them away to the people in your life who don’t/won’t/can’t cook. They’ll still be impressed and if you’re not satisfied try again.

This time the recipe is not mine, which is kind of a crime for my first post. It can be found here on Brave Tart’s site. I halved my recipe and got 24 macs out of it. I also used her Swiss buttercream recipe using my own homemade vanilla extract (saved for a later post.)

To put it bluntly her recipe kicks ass but there are still some tips to help you out as you go that I’ve learned over the years.

*Feet are the little bumpy lining on the bottom of the macaron shell that is made when the macaron rises, assuming your batter isn’t too wet.

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